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Book Review

Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education

It’s a statistic that’s sure to surprise: close to 45% of postsecondary students in the United States today do not enroll in college directly out of high school and many attend part time. Following a tradition of self-improvement as old as the Republic, the “nontraditional” college student is becoming the norm. Back to School looks at the schools that serve a growing population of “second-chancers,” exploring what higher education—in the fullest sense of the term—can offer our rapidly changing society and why it is so critical to support the institutions that make it possible for millions of Americans to better their lot in life.

In an anecdotal style, Rose crafts rich and moving vignettes of people in tough circumstances who find their way; who get a second . . . or third . . . or even fourth chance; and who, in a surprising number of cases, reinvent themselves as educated, engaged citizens. Rose reminds us that our nation’s economic and civic future rests heavily on the health of the institutions that serve millions of everyday people—not simply the top 20 universities in U.S. News and World Report—and paints a vivid picture of the community colleges and adult education programs that give so many a shot at reaching their aspirations.